South Beach, Jennie, CT/PET scans

This is Oregon’s South Beach, not Florida’s. It’s a state park on the Oregon Coast. That’s where we are at this moment in time. Watching the VP debate.

About the debate. After watching the presidential debate, no way were we going to miss this one.

The trip north was non-eventful. The entire way the sky looked almost like it was going to rain at any moment. It didn’t, but should have. If it had perhaps I could have scraped the 3-4 millions bugs off the windshield. From the inside of the coach, the windshield looks a lot like modern art. Before leaving tomorrow I’ll see if I can capture it in a photo with the thought of framing it for a prominent spot above our fireplace.

When we first checked in to the South Beach camp ground, we set up in space A-33, the one we selected when originally registering. One of the first things I do when setting up camp is to determine how good our southern view is. That’s important for good satellite TV reception. Gotta have that so we can check the news. And other stuff.

After I got the coach all set up it was apparent right away that we didn’t have a good southern view. Neither did we have access to broadcast channels. So, I went cruising around the park looking for a better spot. I found that E-31 was far better and went back to the Park Ranger and he switched our sites.

We broke camp and moved. Everything works great.

I can hear your heads twirling about how what I’m describing has anything to do with camping in any way shape or form. Camping is setting up a tent, stoking a wood fire, cooking with the fire or on a tiny little gas stove. You bundle up when it’s cold, and you sleep on the ground. We used to do that.

Then we got old and camping took on a new look for us. Sleeping on the ground became difficult and extremely undesireable. So, we don’t do that any more.

NOTE: I just opened my laptop and found this as a draft from October 7th so it’s a bit out of date. Instead of wracking my tiny brain for more information related to South Beach I’m going to skip ahead a bit and share where we are this moment in time – Deschutes River State Park near The Dalles, Oregon. That’s almost as far away from South Beach as we can get. Actually, that’s not even close to true because the further east we go on I-84 the further we get from South Beach. But, that’s a bit irrelevant for this narrative.

This trip we connected with our Winnebago Group once again. Diane made the arrangements for us to meet up with the group at the Troutdale Outlet mall so we could travel together east on I-84 to the park. Normally, when we rendezvous like this, we are the last to arrive, but this time we beat Terry & Carolann and Cliff & Susie by a mile. Les and Sophie were already at the camp ground so I guess you could say they beat us all. Which they did.

Since we arrived first, we got our lawn chairs out and sat in the sun, yes it was sunny, waiting for the others to arrive. It took them a while but that was to be expected since they live about 3 miles from Troutdale.

We establised another first by leading the group on the trip to the camp ground. What fun I had leading the pack. We mossed along at a sedate 60 mph the entire way.

Once we got to the campground, and connected to the utilities, I investigated the best view of the southern sky. I’ve mentioned before, maybe earlier in this narrative, that seeing the southern sky is imperative for a successful camping experience because that’s where the satellites live that we need to ‘see’ with our Dish antenna. Thankfully, the antenna finds the satellites all by itself. Nifty.

I reset the Dish received a few times with the antenna in various locations with no success. Then I decided to put it on the RV roof, always my last choice, to see what it could find. Turns out it was perfect even though the window to the sky was small through some very tall trees. I was amazed. Diane was very happy.

We set up on Thursday and prepared ourselves to silently celebrate our daughter’s, Jennifer’s, 45th birthday on Friday. Wow! Our baby is 45! But, she still looks like she’s 20-something. Knowing we weren’t going to be home, like almost every October 23rd for many years, we celebrated her birthday with dinner and a small party at Jen’s house last Wednesday. It was a nice, quiet visit. Always good. In attendance was Jen, Daniel, Lydia, Justin, Diane and me. I haven’t mentioned Justin before. He’s Lydia’s new boyfriend. Actually, they’ve known each other since they were wee children and went to school together. They were friends then until Justin called Lydia a “dumb blonde”, or something like that. Because of that she shunned him for the last 8 years or so. Now Lydia acknowledges that he is her boyfriend. It’s a good thing.

The next morning, we left town.

Now it’s time for some historical information to set the stage for Friday afternoon.

Diane was informed about spots in her lungs that concerned her doctor last February. The fact that the doctor knew about them was due to a serendipitous abdominal CT scan that was mistakenly done on her chest. One spot, behind her heart, was of primary concern so another CT scan was scheduled for April so they could see if anything changed. It didn’t, so another CT was scheduled for six months out, in October. That test, done on October 12th, showed changes. Not good news so a PET scan was scheduled for October 20th. Knowing that PET scans are a primary avenue for discovering cancer in one’s body was intimidating, but it had to be done.

That was just a few days ago. Yesterday, Friday, Jennie’s birthday, she got a call from her oncologist but it went right to voice mail so she didn’t get to talk with the doctor directly. The message she left relieved a lot of tension for both Diane and me. She said the PET scan didn’t reveal any bright spots, meaning there was no cancer. Then Diane was able to access the PET diagnosis which was pretty much all good news. Amazing. Her oncologist said there are things that need to be worked on, but the worst case wasn’t in the picture.

I am so happy that my life with Diane isn’t going to be cut short and Diane is so relieved that the doctors have something definitive to deal with. She told me that on the drive home after the PET scan she felt a calm envelope her, a sense of peace. Like a sign that all was going to be alright. So far, it is.

The fact that all this news became available on Jennifer’s birthday seemed to be significant. No doubt in our minds, prayers were answered. For that, we’re thankful.

Life is good.

The Other Day, Then Today

This is a short post to capture what we did on October 3rd. I didn’t do it on the day of because my computer was arguing with me and it wouldn’t let me add photos. So I closed it and put it under a bunch of clothes in a drawer, all alone. Since then it’s been very cooperative.

On the 3rd, we took a trip to Coos Bay to see the sites. Here’s what we saw …

That pretty much sums up our activities for the day.

As I peck on my keyboard, we are taking backroads to the Coos Bay area to, perhaps, do it again. We’ll be passing through Charleston on the way. Sunset Bay State Park, just below Shore Acres, is where we stayed a few years ago so got to like the area a little bit then. We’re going back to renew that romance.

As I twiddle my thumbs, waiting for something significant to happen, I’d like to report, whether or not you’d like me to, that this area, based on the the number of flags we see, Trump supporters are in abundance. Just sayin.

There may be photos added to this at a later date, but for now, I’m frustrated enough that dismantling my laptop seems like a good thing to do.

Later.

Trek to the beach

Truly, it was a trek. For Diane and me, it was an epic trek. It began quite calmly with a short walk around B Loop here in the park, to a very soft sand path that immediately aimed itself uphill. Next to the entry point stood a pole to which was attached a small sign with an arrow point the way. Beneath the arrow the distance was revealed to be 0.75 miles.

So, 3/4 of a mile uphill in soft sand. No problem. It was a challenge for both of us so we marched on. Very slowly.

Here I must report that this park has a portion available for folks who bring their horses and they are allowed to use portions of the sandy path we were trekking. Dodging occasional horse droppings on shared portions of the path caused me to wonder why campers are constantly reminded to clean up after their dogs but nowhere did I see similar reminders for horse owners to do the same. Especially for common use areas.

How is this fair? I suppose it could be a safety issue for the riders who would have to stop, dismount, cleanup, remount, then restart. Maybe OSHA made a decision that exempts horse folks from stooping so low as to pick up their poop. I don’t know, but, I have a solution.

Pretty much every parade I’ve ever attended had horses who marched down the road with all the other displays. Usually, they followed all the bands and marching units, for obvious reasons. Each group of horses is followed by a brave group of people with a shovel and a cart, picking up the droppings as necessary. I don’t think it’s beyond reasonable to provide the same service for horses allowed to traverse paths shared by humans. The pickeruppers could follow along on an off quad, or a small jeep.

Just a suggestion.

Now that I’ve unburdened my troubled sense of fairness, let me just say that Diane and I made the 1.5 mile round trip without incident. Although the temperature was reported at 68 degrees, neither of us believed it and took hoodies for the trip. They were put to good use once we arrived at the beach. The wind was blowing quite hard driving the wind chill factor down to about 9 degrees. That’s probably not true but it was really chilly. Even so, I ventured down that last steep hill to the beach so I could look at the little rocks the water scatters all over. Diane chose to skip that last challenge and found a comfy place to sit by a large sign with 146 on it. These signs, scattered up and down the coast, are used by safety agencies for locating emergencies along the coast. I looked that up so it must be true. Makes sense.

Anyway, while wandering around smartly on the beach, with no one within 2 miles of us, except the wind surfer making his way south. The results of my pebble hunting was about 7 pounds of extra weight for the return trip on that soft sand path home.

The path from the beach goes into those trees, and beyond. Daunting.

We took numerous breaks on the way back to let our hips and knees rest. Now it’s later, we’ve had supper, and sitting for any length of time causes micro seizures of all my crotch muscles. Getting up is difficult and painful. I’m having the same symptoms I get when I drag my golf bag around a 9-hole course. I fail to understand why all my discomfort is centered within the confines of my crotch area. Doesn’t make sense.

Still, it hurts. I will heal, I know, but for now, it hurts.

Please pray for me.

Rocks before the trip.
Rocks after the trip.

Road Trip

I’m doing something different today. Not really different, just something I haven’t done in a long time. Write on the fly. Diane’s driving and I’m connected to the tow car’s wifi which is really handy. Not only does it give me a chance to keep up with the blog, it diverts my attention from what happens on the highway. Sometimes it’s pretty scary with all those cars whizzing by willy nilly.

We’re headed south on Highway 101 with no clear destination in mind. Just going south. We’ve done this before but it’s been a long time so everything we see will be new.

First thing we did was stop by Face Rock State Park in Bandon. We donned our ‘car bibs’ and ate the bologna sandwiches Diane made for lunch. Pretty yummy stuff. Haven’t had bologna for a long time. Diane eats it quite often because it’s one of the sandwiches I can make from memory.

By the way, Ernie, Bandon’s population as of 2018 was 3,130, or thereabouts. Thought you’d like to know that it hasn’t grown much beyond what you remember.

After lunch we returned to the campground we’re in, Bullard’s Beach State Park, B-41,so I could make sure I didn’t leave my iPad and iMac laying on a chair outside. I was supposed to bring it with us so I could fiddle while Diane drove.

Turns out I left it on a table inside so they were safe.

Then, we headed south again and made it all the way to DQ where the siren song of a chocolate malt caused us to stop. Actually, I’m the chocolate malt guy. Diane usually gets the squishy drinks. This time she got a lemon twizzle, or something like that. She likes it.

It’s a beautiful day – 68 and no clouds. That’s really a good temperature for the beach. Hope it’s still that warm when we get there.

We’ve been watching the news every night to find out how karma is treating our president. I have this deep down feeling that it’s a huge hoax so he can magically come out of it and say, “told you so.” Still, not knowing causes us to wish him a speedy recovery. No one needs to suffer without someone caring.

That’s my political statement for the day.

Along our course we’ve passed numerous cranberry bogs. Ocean Spray has a presence in the area and, I understand, buys the products of the private bogs that pepper the area. So, when you eat that stuff at Thanksgiving, you’re eating a little bit of Oregon, in a way.

Not too far down the road is the town of Sixes. I’m curious about that place and need to know the history behind the name. I’ll share it with you because I bet you’re curious, too.

OK, I’ll just tell you what I know, and what I found out on Wikipedia.

Sixes is an unincorporated town that’s so small that, though we were looking, we drove right through it, or by it, without a clue that anything was there. That’s when Wikipedia came into play and that’s what I shared on the link connected to the first word in this paragraph. There’s probably more history available, but I’ll just let you look it up.

In the mean time, Diane took a right off Highway 101 to visit Cape Blanco State Park. This will allow us to check off one more Oregon state park from our list. I have no idea how many we have left to visit, but I think we’ve been to the majority of them.

Cape Blanco is a windy place.

Diane’s hair flying off into the wind. Caught it right at the edge of the cliff.

We got out and walked around a bit then Diane went back to the car because of the cold wind. Temp is 64 but wind chill is around 12, I’m sure. After Diane got in the car, she couldn’t close the door.

Go the lighthouse in the cut out at the top of the sign.
Cape Blanco lighthouse.
Here’s why they need a lighthouse.

After leaving the lighthouse area, we ventured down the gravel road that indicated it had beach access, and, by golly, it did. It was an interesting trip on a very narrow road.

When we reached the bottom, pretty close to the beach, we were the 2nd car. Within 15 minutes there were at least 8 cars parked with ours. That seems to happen a lot when we go places. The places is empty, then the masses follow. It’s like, “Hey, Jerrie & Diane are here! Let’s go, too!”

Cape Blanco is apparently a repository for a majority of lumber that washes up on Oregon beaches. There’s at least one whole forest laying at the high tide mark.

There was another road on the way from the lighthouse to Highway 101, leading to the Hughes farm house. It was built in 1898 by an Irish couple who cleared the land and raised 7 children in this isolated place. Hearty folks.

Diane’s window shopping. No tours today.
It’s windy most of the time at the house. Trees grow like this.

Now we’re on our way into Port Orford when the third historical site is awaiting us; the Port Orford Life Boat Station. We got there and discovered that seeing anything involved walking so we just sat in the parking lot for a bit, turned around, and headed back to the ranch. We were already wind burned and didn’t feel the need to make it worse. Thanks to the internet I was able to get you a link to the pertinent information.

Another reason for heading home is that my laptop is down to 22% and will quickly fall to 0% and I’ll forget everything I was going to write.

Now we’re ‘home’ and we’ve had supper.

Life is good.

Off on another Adventure

This is a preamble to the following narrative to explain the reason I wrote it two days ago and am only now sending it. First, there was an “internet thing” that prevented me from sharing it. I also had photos to share that I needed to download to my laptop from my phone. I found it interesting that when I connected my phone to the laptop I got a message reporting that I needed to download a file to make it happen but it didn’t tell me what the file was. Being gullible, I just selected “sure, download that file and make me take a change you will destroy everything on my computer.” That was actually an option. Really. I started that last night but got bored waiting so I stopped the process and went to bed. This morning I just let it run wild and also initiated a download of my own to update my laptop OS. Since I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot, and the signal it has is iffy, the process took just about 5 hours. I’m happy to report that everything turned out just fine except the photo download process thought all of the 9700 photos on my phone were new. It took about an hour for the process to stop at my command, then I selected the last 150 photos and downloaded them. Now I’m ready to let you read this thing. Whew!

I can’t believe that it’s been 19 days since my last post. You’d almost think I’ve been avoiding all of you. I could claim that COVID has kept me away, and that’s true, to an extent, but not the reason I’ve avoided the blog. Nope. I’m just lazy. One day melds onto another and, at least in my case, they’re pretty much all the same.

I get up around 5 am, let the animals out, let them back in, feed them, take my pills, sit in my chair, spread out a blanket in my lap for the cat, read my book until the cat wants to go back out, make coffee, fall asleep until Diane gets up between 10-11am, drink coffee, make breakfast, check my email, watch TV with Diane until time for supper, eat supper, watch TV until time for bed, let the animals out, let them back in, go to bed, read until I fall asleep, wake up just enough to put my book up, sleep off and on until 5 am, let the animals out, etc. for the past 19 days.

Actually, that routine’s been going on for years.

So, what did we do during those last 19 days? Let me look at my calendar. I’ll be right back …

A quick review revealed that there’s not much to report other than the fact that Diane wanted to wash the storm windows on the east side of the house. I thought, well, they come off pretty easy and they shouldn’t be too difficult to wash and replace, so I agreed. I got three of the four removed myself, but needed Jeff’s help on the 4th one.

Once they were down, and we got a closer look at them, and the condition of the window frames they were hiding, we had a short discussion about the benefits of spending a lot of money to just have all the windows replaced. An expensive but simple way to get all the windows washed. Made my day.

Now all we have to do is wait for the guy to show up and measure all the opening for that perfect fit. Then wait some more while they are all manufactured. Then wait some more for an install date. We have a pool going about whether or not it will be raining cat and dogs on the install day.

We’ve been traveling more and more lately. Fort Stevens State Park was the last trip, a couple of weeks ago with our Winnebago Friends.

At this time, we’re currently on the second day of a trip to Bullard’s Beach State Park in southern Oregon. It’s a great way to sequester. One big reason to head west was to get away from the forest fire smoke we’d be breathing for a week or so. This is what it looked like off our back porch:

Just 60 miles west in Seaside we had this:

End of Broadway – the Seaside Turnaround.
South end of Seaside Beach.
The Winnebago Crowd

At this moment, we’re parked in spot 9 at Armitage Park in Coburg. Got here yesterday and will leave tomorrow for the final leg to Bullard’s Beach State Park. It’s very quiet here and the spaces are about 30 feet apart so there’s no crowding at all.

A funny thing happened last night that made both of us grab out chins, tip our heads a little, and go “Hmmmm.” When I woke up this morning my right knee looks like someone hit me smack on my patella with a hammer. It was all swollen up and had stuff squishing all around my knee cap. I know that because I was moving it all around with my fingers. I could do that because it doesn’t hurt. Another interesting aspect of this event is that it doesn’t hurt to push it around, but I cannot kneel on it. That hurts. A lot. It’s just weird.

My gnarly knee. Looks kinda like a kangaroo knee.

For now it’s just not a concern and it’s kinda fun to look at.

Today we took a trip via back roads to investigate Springfield and Eugene (think Oregon Ducks). We made a trip to Mount Pisgah Arboretum and tromped around on their grounds for a couple of hours, walking 3 miles or so. It was good. It’s an immense area with miles of paths for serious walkers, of which there were a few.

That’s Diane running away from me.
Recharging
One of many paths across the fields.

Met some very friendly people who were hard at work clearing acres of blackberry vines. After watching them for a bit, my little patch of blackberry vines at home dwindled to pretty much nothing in my mind.

Then we drove to downtown Eugene to see an incredible house perched on the side of the hill just above the Amtrak stop. If it hadn’t’ve been Monday we would have toured the place but they don’t open till Tuesday. Big bummer.

Shelton McMurphey Johnson House

Then it was time to go ‘home’, but only after a stop to get some groceries. Turned out there was a Winco Food store right around the corner so Diane was delighted.

Diane wanted steak so we got some. The New York versions were cheap, she said, and came 2 to a pack so we got 2 packs. I allowed this knowing that Diane would only eat half of hers, but that was OK. While checking out she foolishly asked me if I could eat a pound of meat. Though no answer was required, I said, “sure.”

Once back ‘home’ she went to work baking a couple of potatoes and one ear of corn (for me) while I got the BBQ out of the basement and worked at getting it hooked up. That’s really not a tough job but when I opened the basement door things fell out. Like a bag of beach toys the girls use when we take them to the beach. They went everywhere. While I was picking those up, the bag full of kitty lights fell out and scattered a bit.

Then I got the BBQ and hauled it over to the picnic table. The propane tank was waaay on the other side of the motorhome. Gathering my strength for that trip took a bit, but I got it together, got the tank, and hurked it to the picnic table. You may scoff, if you wish, but that tank weighs at least half as much as I did when I was in the fifth grade.

Not much happened until all the food was cooked and I made a concerted effort to get the steaks, which looked marvelous, into the coach. Everything went well until I couldn’t, for some obscure reason, get my right foot to the top of the last step. There was a lot of wobbling going on, Diane held her breath, but nothing worked and both steaks landed on the rug; the one we wipe our feet on when we come indoors. Nice, huh? That was resolved by passing them under the water faucet for a rinse. Then we ate.

I ate all of mine and the other half of Diane’s. Definitely a pound of meat. Then I ate a piece of cake. When that wore off, I ate a banana.

Sadly, neither Diane nor I captured any of this to share with you. We still have those other two steaks to cook while we’re traveling so I’ll try to remember to get photos then.

Now we’re winding down, watching Dancing With The Stars and wishing Tom was still the host. Tyra just isn’t any fun at all.

Still, we watch.

Condiments, Hot Weather, and Tillamook

So, Diane went to Taco Bell yesterday and got me a couple tacos and a burrito. Knowing I like the hot sauce she asked for some and got this:

Ya gotta wonder how doing this affects overhead for this establishment. Just a little bit of waste.

Well, not really a waste, I guess, because I gave them to Baylee who loves hot sauce on pretty much everything. Yesterday she made a sandwich of two pieces of toast that she doused liberally with Cholula Hot Sauce. Nothing else … just two pieces of toast covered in Cholula smashed together. Makes my mouth hurt thinking about it. Sadly, I failed to capture video evidence of this one, but I have no doubt she will do it again in the near future.

The weather has turned nasty up here in Oregon. Temperatures have been around 100 for the past few days. The good side of that is Diane won’t let me work outside when it’s that hot because she apparently doesn’t want me to die of heat stroke. For that, I’m happy. It’s also a reason for me to just lounge around in my jammies all day.

Last Friday, the 14th, we returned from a week long visit to the Tillamook Elks Lodge RV Park. In all, there were five RVs in our group so we were able to practice our social distancing each evening as we gathered for an illegal pot luck. We’re pretty comfortable with each other and have no fear of COVID-19 because we are very careful when out and about among people we do not know. We know they are safe courteous folks because they all drive Winnebagos. We used to, but they let us hang out with them anyway.

Cliff and Susie brought their cat, Dusty, who is pretty quick about escaping out the door when it’s open. Normally, when he’s allowed outside, he’s on a harness, but sometimes he just waits for the door to open and launches and runs under the motorhome. That causes Cliff to get active and chase him down. In this sequence, Cliff had to crawl under and extract him from the right front shock absorber:

This activity keeps Cliff in shape.

Note the sign next to Cliff.

Susan, Sophie, Susie, Carolann, Diane
Lunch at the Blue Heron. Looks nice, food was good, but the wind was blowing about 80 mph.
Fun with bubbles a few RVs down the road from us.

Since it was only five miles down Highway 101, we three remaining guys (the other two had already departed) went to Munson Falls State Park. It’s off the road a few miles and it’s a 1/4 mile hike from the parking lot, but a very easy walk. The falls are 300+ feet high. Since the weather has been very dry the falls were still pretty, but a little subdued. When the rains fall, they are amazing to see.

Cliff, Munson Falls, Terry
Munson Falls & Me – I believe I must shave. Again.

The last photo is from Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were in March when the pandemic began.

Here we are, eating again. It’s something we do well together. Diane took the photo so the only evidence of her is the empty plate across the table from me.

Hope everyone is staying safe. We are, even with all the riots and such going on in Portland. We just don’t go there any more. Really sad.

Family Camp – 2020

Grace Baptist Church Family Camp is an event we attend every year as honorary Baptists. That’s mainly because we are related to some of the members and also because they just like us. The “also” is an opinion but I’m sticking with it.

We departed civilization on Tuesday, July 28th and completed the the trip, that normally takes about an hour, in about an hour. It’s really not that far away … just over the hill about 5 miles from Vernonia. Vernonia is only about 25 miles from home and Google maps thinks it’s only a 38 minute drive. What Google Maps doesn’t know is that the road is only 2 lanes and it’s very curvy. Therefore, I’ll stand by my claim that it’s about an hour away, which it truly is, unless Diane’s driving.

I will surely be in trouble for revealing that last bit …

The camp doesn’t officially begin until Friday but we die hards (the old people) arrive early to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before the children descend to make a joyful noise. We took three of them with us so we had a head start, and that’s just fine. They were good as gold the entire time.

Since Vernonia is only about 32 miles from Forest Grove, where the Sunset Grove Golf Course is, it was decided that I should meet Doug there Wednesday morning for golf. I figured, “What the heck, I’m in the area, so why not do that?” So, I did. Turns out that the golf course is closer to Scappoose, where Doug lives, than it is to Big Eddy. But, I made it on time and we had a wonderful time. We always do. I lost, of course, because I always do. You’d think that since I always keep score I’d win one once in a while. The trouble is, even with fudging the numbers a little, Doug still wins.

Back to camp …

Big Eddy Park is located along the Nehalem River just off Highway 47, the road from Vernonia to Clatskanie. Big Eddy Park and I go back a long ways to April 20, 1968, when my big brother, Jack, thought it would be a good idea for me to participate in the Nehalem River Boat Race. Seemed like a fun thing to do so I was all in. What wasn’t related until later was that as we passed under each bridge along the way he would drop half a case of beer to us. After a couple of bridges I figured out that it wasn’t really a race at all. It was just a reason to float down the river and drink beer.

The fact that I was getting married later that day was the primary reason for involving me in the ‘race’. Jack, you see, was my best man and it was his job to make the day memorable. He did that.

When we finally made it ashore at Big Eddy I admit I was ready for a nap. I had no idea what time it was, but I remember getting to the church in plenty of time for the ceremony and I totally remember the entire ceremony. It was awesome!

Back to camp, again …

Diane and I spent time around the camp fire with Daniel, Jennifer, Lydia, and Jeran, and anyone else who had a notion to join us. Yes, we were socially compliant, keeping our distance, but I’m pretty sure we could have sat a little closer because the fire surely burned up any virus bits that came into our area.

The kids, Gilligan, Baylee, and Jerrie, ran wild all day, every day, until they got hungry. Then we fed them so they could go out for another round.

The bottom of the river throughout Big Eddy Park is covered with river rock. Those are the nicely rounded rocks that don’t kill your feet when you step on them barefoot unless you’re old like me. Then you wear shoes. Kids spend a lot of time looking for the pretty rocks when they aren’t actively floating around on an inner-tube. Here’s the best rock of the day that a little girl found:

Pure agate. Biggest one I’ve ever seen in the wile.

Here are my girls in a rare moment of inactivity …

Lydia, Gilligan, Baylee, Jerrie

Bronson even came along for a couple of days but had to leave because it was all a bit stressful for him.

Bronson

Diane made camping more homey with her kitty slippers …

Jennifer and Daniel cooked gourmet meals twice a day throughout the entire stay because they are on the Whole 30 diet …

I tried some of it and it was really good.

Jennifer braided hair for anyone who had hair long enough and wanted it done. Mine wasn’t quite there, yet, so i missed out. Little Jerrie didn’t, though …

Gilligan, Jeran, Daniel, and Lydia spent a lot of time running their long boards around the park. Lydia is the only one I could capture. The others were just too fast for me …

We came home last Sunday afternoon, when church service was over, then returned the children to their rightful owners, and took. naps.

Camping is hard work.

Jibberish

It’s now July 8, and I must get creative, but first I need food.

That’s a haiku poem. Really it is I know this. They don’t have to rhyme.

Actually, both of those are haiku. Not a planned one, but it kinda worked out. In case you don’t know, haiku poems consist of 3 lines in a 5-7-5 syllable format. It’s interesting to make words fit that pattern because you just never know what comes out. At least, I don’t.

Yesterday it rained buckets and buckets, after I got home from golf. Didn’t get rained on even one time on the golf course so it must have been fun, right? It was, even though I did my usual terrible game. To help with my frustration, I’ve started counting only the good strokes which allow me to wind up with a respectable score. I know, that doesn’t make sense because I’m not in competition with anyone so why bother, right? I think I’ll just skip the scorecard next time.

It’s supposed to start clearing up today so maybe I can mow the yard again. I kinda like following my exercise machine around the yard. Makes it pretty and Diane likes that.

Our 3 blueberry bushes are producing prodigious amounts of berries since we fenced them off from the deer. I could have done that in years past but figured the deer like the berries more than I did. That, and picking them is a lot like a job that must be done every day till they are all gone. The deer kept them neatly trimmed.

Yesterday afternoon Diane looked out the kitchen window and saw one of the neighbor’s small goats with his head through the fence around their garden chomping away on what I think was a potato bush. Maybe it’s just a plant. I don’t know. It just has lots of leaves and the goat really liked it. I went out and watched for a while, then let Jeff know what was going on so he could call Jen, the neighbor, so she might salvage part of the plant. In hindsight, I suspect I probably should have let them know sooner. Goats can eat a lot in a short period of time. I’m thinking about renting a couple of Jen’s goats to eat the blackberry bushes across the street where we park some of our vehicles. I’ve cut them down numerous times over the years but they just won’t go away. If you aren’t plagued with blackberries let me know. I’ll send you some. I’m pretty sure doing that would violate a bunch of laws, but I’m willing to chance it if you are.

Actually, I’m not. I won’t send them to you, but you are more than welcome to come visit and take with you as many of the vines as you wish when you leave. If you wait for another month, or so, you can pick some ripe berries and make me a pie which I will happily eat as I watch you toil. I’m really good at sitting around watching people toil. Just ask Diane. She’ll tell you I’m right. I’m a professional toil watcher.

On Monday Diane got up early so she could get me to my VA appointment in Hillsboro on time. Like normal, she dropped me off out front then made a beeline to her favorite store (Goodwill) up the street a ways.

I wandered up to the 3rd floor, arriving in plenty of time, only to learn that I really didn’t have an appointment. Well, I did, but it isn’t until July 28th. I was 22 days early. That’s kind of epic, don’t you think? I mean, people are either a little early or late by a matter of minutes, but 22 days? Really?

I didn’t call Diane right away to inform her that she got the appointment wrong on the calendar because I knew it would ruin her chi. I kinda do that unintentionally on a regular basis, ruin her chi, throughout the course of a week but not quite as profoundly as getting an appointment wrong by 22 days. Oh, and it wasn’t her that got it wrong. It was me.

Finally I called her and she answered while digging through a pile of clothes in children’s sizes that had just been made available. It would have been easier to report my mistake if she’d been in the book section instead. Nope. Had to catch her in the kids clothes.

I told her what I’d done then went outside to sit on the curb because I didn’t want to wear my little Sponge Bob mask any longer. I told her to take her time but she rushed right back to get me. Unfortunately, Goodwill isn’t far enough away from the VA facility to allow disappointment to fade away. Not even my bright and smiley face could make it better. Thankfully, she was hungry (hangry, actually) so she drove us to Elmer’s to see if it was open. It was, so we had breakfast. After coffee and a couple pieces of really crispy bacon, she was OK and we could safely continue with our day. The trip to town wasn’t a total waste. For me a trip anywhere with my bride is special. Even to a very early doctor appointment.

After we got home I think we both took naps. Going to the Portland area does that to us. Actually, getting up and walking around the house for a while does that. Naps a good.

Looking back a few paragraphs made me hungry so I’m feel the need to go fire up the stove and cook something. If I don’t I’m sure I’ll go into a diabetic coma and that’d make Diane a little cranky. It always does.

Stay safe and keep your distance.

My Lifer Wife

On the surface, being called a Lifer could be construed as an insult, but that’s only in the mind of someone who has no intention of staying in the military any longer than they have to. I’ll also share that many of those who used the word “Lifer” as a negative wished they had chosen that life in their waning years.

Being a Lifer is a commitment to making the military a career, sticking it our for at least 20 years. I made that decision, with my Wife’s concurrence, in 1973, just five years after we were married. At that point she had only experienced two commands with me – NAVCOMMSTA Okinawa, and USDAO Rome, Italy. You wouldn’t think that was enough to make a career decision, but she did.

During the course of ‘her’ career we were sent to some interesting commands, only a few of which were centered in and around San Diego, California. Even so, San Diego quickly became her favorite port.

Our time in San Diego meant that I was stationed aboard one ship or another and spent a lot of time at sea, away from home, six months at a time. Perhaps that’s the part she really enjoyed. I don’t know. She never said. Even if that’s true, I think the larger part of the attraction was the life-long friends we met along the way and the demeanor of people who live on military bases. There’s a certain camaraderie throughout a military complex that we never experienced anywhere else. Maybe it’s just us. Who knows? We just like it.

Even now, when we travel, we plan our trips to include stops at various military bases along our route, staying in temporary quarters, and enjoying the atmosphere of those surroundings.

Although the sound of jets flying by on a Naval Air Station make her eyes sparkle, it’s the underlying aroma of machinery and fresh paint of a Naval Base, like San Diego, that truly has her heart. There’s just something about it that triggers good memories.

This was brought home to me yesterday when we were watching an episode of “The Good Witch”, there was a moment where the wife suggested they just up anchor and move to France. The husband, a doctor, gave it a little thought and agreed they should do that. After another brief pause, the wife reported that they didn’t really have to go, but it was really nice to know he was willing to make such a move. It was a test. He passed.

That interaction prompted me to ask Diane, “of all the places we’ve been in our lives, where would you most like to live?”

Without hesitation, she said, “San Diego. Not in the city, but not far from the ocean. That way we can drive by and smell the ships once in a while.”

I’d never thought about it that way, but that’s really kinda what we do. We smell the ships.

It’s just a little bit intoxicating.

Happy 4:20 to Me and Diane

A few years before 4:20 became a code for “let’s smoke pot,” Diane and I were married on that day, which today happens to be our 52nd celebration of that union. Why certain people chose to use this code for their activities isn’t clear to me, they just did. It doesn’t matter. What’s important to me is that we claimed it first. So, there.

To make it to the wedding I went home on leave from the Navy between duty stations to capture my bride. I was transported from the USS Cleveland, off the coast of the Viet Nam DMZ to Danang where I awaited a day for my flight home. According to the folks who made my air reservations, Okinawa was my next duty station and that’s where they ended my flight. I was a long way from Warren and on a time limit so I was a little flustered. After talking to a lot of people, I convinced them that they owed me a trip to CONUS (Continental US) since I was transported from Viet Nam and I wasn’t going to spend my 30 days of leave on Okinawa.

I was booked on a flight leaving the next day and stayed awake the entire 30 some hours to make sure nothing changed and I didn’t miss it.

When I boarded the Air Force C-141 for my flight I wasn’t prepared for the cargo they were hauling back to the states. The plane was full of aluminum caskets containing the remains of GI’s killed in Viet Nam. I didn’t count the caskets, but I felt compelled to walk amongst them, reading the names of who they contained. It wasn’t likely that I would know any of them, and I didn’t, but there was a need in me to do that. There was no pomp and circumstance involved in their loading (to my knowledge) so my little tiny bit of recognition seemed to be important. This was in 1968 when military people were generally despised by the masses.

The flight ended for me in Anchorage, Alaska where I voluntarily jumped ship and got a flight south to Portland. In Anchorage I called Diane to alert her of my pending arrival and boarded a more suitable airplane to Seattle. When I arrived there, I called Diane again to let her know that I would be in Portland in about 30 minutes.

Although Warren is about an hour’s drive to PDX, Diane made it there before my flight. Part of that was because she was driving my 1966 Chevelle Sport Coupe. It was quick, and she was determined.

She gathered me up and got me home on the 16th or 17th of April. Thankfully, all of her plans were in place for the big event. All I had to do was show up.

She selected the 20th because both of our birthdays are on the 20th and she thought I would be inclined to remember it.

The wedding was awesome. I got to marry my high school sweetheart and Bethany Lutheran Church was filled to capacity for us. It was an amazing turnout for two skinny kids from Scappoose (me) and Warren (her).

My leave period ended very quickly, too quickly, before I had to catch my flight back to Okinawa. Diane couldn’t go with me because she didn’t have her passport. She did, however, fly with me to Travis AFB, her first time on an airplane.

When she got her passport we arrange her travel from Portland to Okinawa, a trip she had to make on her own. She was a brave woman, but I knew that.

Taking that first step with me turned out to be a 20-year career for her as a Navy Wife. She professes to have loved pretty much every minute of it. So have I, and we’re still enjoying our time together.

Here’s the last selfie I took of us together at Cape Lookout State Park. This is where we were when the pandemic began and everyone was ordered to stay inside.